The Ultimate Fighter15: hard times
TUF 15 episode 6 had former champ Vitor Belfort in the house for the fight between Team Cruz's Chris Tickle (7-4) and Team Faber’s Joe Proctor (7-1). This episode would school fans, myself included, to not judge fighters without really knowing their history.
Chris Tickle has come off as the unlikeable runaway train for season 15, and didn’t do much to discourage that assessment when he showed up for last week’s fight a little tipsy. Cruz berated his fighter for the antics, and admonished him to keep the buffoonery down and his trap shut---to let his fighting do the talking. But on Thanksgiving Sunday, it was Tickle who cooked turkey dinner for everyone. Tickle grew up in Pontiac, Illinois, on his own, fighting in the streets, and dealing every day with racism. And taking care of himself.
Tickle also got into the house without a coach, having learned his formidable skills on his own, watching YouTube. Think about that.
In the week leading up to the fight, Tickle took coach Cruz aside and asked to be pushed. At this point, Cruz recognized Tickle’s need to be who he is, to vent however he needs to vent, and to approach the fight his own way.
Proctor had no easy pass in life either. Both his parents were alcoholics, and he was raised by his grandparents in Pembroke, Massachusetts. His father is dry now, and they are close. Suffice it to say many fighters---past and present---come from hard times. Proctor walks around sporting a newsboy cap, which actually suits him.
Like mouthy Rashad Evans, Faber creates a lot of tension around him with well-timed barbs, all while smiling. At the weigh in he tried mixing it up verbally with Cruz, who told Faber, “The only thing you could beat me at is a short contest.” If you don’t know, Faber is about 5’1”, no matter what the UFC says on the tale of the tape.
At the weigh in, Tickle ate pizza while on the scale, and Proctor wore pink undies, both likely meant to throw off their opponent.
Tickle’s strength is heavy hands and heavy feet. Cruz stressed sprawl and brawl, with timed bursts. Proctor trains with UFC vet and submission ace Joe Lauzon, so even though he loves to box and take one off the chin, his best bet is to get the fight down.
The first round showed off a very crisp and cement-fisted Tickle, who timed impressive counter punches, especially with his left hook. He rocked Proctor a few times, and drew first blood. Proctor tried clinching a few times in order to get the fight to the mat, to no avail. Proctor walks around at 175, large for a 155 pound fight, but neither size nor technique could get Tickle down, till the last minute of the round. That’s all he’d need.
Proctor secured a takedown against the fence and applied the kind of brutal insta-submission Lauzon is known for, sinking in a rear naked coke at 4:42.
Team Faber won the fight, but Tickle won fans with his effort, and his classy acceptance of the loss. All it made me want is for Team Cruz’s Justin Lawrence to clean up in the finale, and for Cruz to beat Faber in their upcoming rematch. But that’s why the UFC airs TUF: to get fans stoked.